Thursday, April 30, 2009

Government still behind the cruve again on swineflu

Take this advice current on the HPA's web site (Standard practical advice for investigating individuals with possible swine influenza infection v1 30 April 2009):

    1. Which patients should be tested?
    Currently we do not have transmission of swine influenza
    A within the UK.
    To be considered for testing a patient should have:
    • Fever greater or equal to 38°C or history of fever,
    AND flu-like illness or other severe illness suggestive
    of an infective process
    • Onset within seven days of travel from an area known
    to have cases of swine influenza. The updated list is
    available at on the HPA website.

That means no secondary infection cases are automatically tested.

This document may have been downloaded and could be referred to for days by "health professionals".

Just a few hours ago the first confirmed human to human transmission case was identified in Scotland. Remember this case happened because someone was allowed to wonder round the country of a flight from Mexico and go out drinking with their rugby club.

If anyone from the HPA reads this here is what you need to do:

Put at the heading of each document a date by which that document should not be refered to any long and redownloaded. Currently you might like to restrict that to every 6 hours. ( Its only a little help to put a version number on because odds are the document's been printed out and is blue tacked to someone's office wall for goodness knows how long. Right now that has a real impact ).

Did no one think this stuff through ? The control of documentation is basic practice int he Engineering world, I'm just appauled by all of this. Command and control is definately lacking.

Update: They seem to have woken up in part to this on some other documents - other algorithm documents advice checking with the web site before taking action. Better to put an expired notice on it !

PS I'm told that health care professionals have had a hard time getting on the HPA web site at all today. Now maybe that's just a local internet connection thing, but maybe nobody stress tested their systems and its another sign that things have not been worked through.


wildgoose said...

I think you're exactly right about the dangers, it's still an office joke at the moment, but hospital beds will quickly be overwhelmed in the case of a pandemic and we have fewer beds and a larger population than in the last pandemic around 1968.

Of course, it could also be just the excuse Gordon Brown needs to turn it into an all-postal vosting election. Let's face it, zaNuLabour have plenty of experience in rigging postal voting...

Man in a Shed said...

Normally I would be with the "crying wolf" camp on this sort of thing.

For example you just knew that the Pakistani students who go arrested with public statements by Brown, would get released a few days later.

But what's different here is that this scare has not been pushed by the govt. We've not had Gordon Brown making solemn statements (except where forced) or visiting preparedness centres.

He's been too busy with his other little political schemes, most of which have backfired spectacularly.

So I don't think they have the current capacity to fire this up also.

It all looks too frighteningly real to me.

In my student days when the hall fire alarm was tested everyone would look out of their door at each other and look for smoke. But no one wanted to be uncool and rush off out.

Its the same hear, no one wants to look foolish, which is a shame because good can be done by some simple preperations.

The problem is that I don't think the govt cooked this scare up, and in fact they are struggling to cope.

My advice is to get in 2 weeks food in dried / canned form. It will pull more supplies thought he supply chain ( so not depriving anyone else - if done now ).

If the worse happens you don't want to fall ill at the peak of the outbreak, and the only way to ensure that is to cut yourself of once its clear things are heading out of control.

And then again you might have to have a lot of camping weekends to eat the damn stuff in 3 months time ( my kids claim they hate bake beans so things may not go well !).

If anything the govt is trying to distract us away from the flu issue.

Man in a Shed said...

Ah - now Brown has gone and done the things which I noted the absence of...

This one is very hard to call.

wildgoose said...

I already make a point of keeping a good stock of food in. Just imagine what would happen if the government's "Quantitive Easing" collapsed into hyper-inflation, something that actually happens with frightening speed if you look at examples elsewhere in the World.

Right now, I've decided that with negative interest rates after inflation, and with a government deliberately trying to stoke the inflationary fires ever higher, that the most sensible approach is to spend our savings by bringing forward big-ticket purchases whilst the money is still worth something.